Penn State classes still remain private throughout the spring semester, but due to increased local hospitalizations and uncertainty about the Omicron University option, the University Park is asking the University Park community to prepare for the opportunity so the semester can begin remotely.
The university said it would renew the community on Dec. 30. The first day of spring classes is January 10.
“Our main concern remains the health and safety of our campus and the local community,” University President Eric Barron said in a written statement. “As I have said throughout the pandemic, the university has developed a number of ramps and bounces to deal with situations that may arise. We fully expect to begin the spring semester as planned, with personal lessons and activities, but we also wanted to inform the University Park campus community that we continue to monitor local conditions and are ready to change return plans for the semester if considered. necessary. “
Last fall, the Pennsylvania-free vaccine was forced to temporarily switch to distance learning as weekly cases on campus approached 700. This fall, when the vaccination rate was 89.8%, there were never more than 200 cases per week.
However, the status of the county’s only hospital, Mount Nittani Medical Center, remains a major concern – something the university hinted at in a press release released Friday. According to the university, Commonwealth campuses are expected to begin the semester in person as planned, due to smaller populations and “greater regional health capacity,” meaning that the 260-bed capacity near University Park was a problem.
Earlier this month, Mount Nitton Medical Center was forced to reject emergency department patients – from Thursday evening to Friday morning – when the hospital developed capacity, in part because of nearly five dozen patients with COVID. As of Thursday, according to the COVID-19 Hospital Dashboard, 61 patients with COVID between the ages of 22 and 95 are currently being treated, nine of whom are in intensive care and six on mechanical ventilation.
Last week, when the hospital had 65 patients with COVID, Mount Nitton’s chief physician outlined the seriousness of the increase in hospitalizations.
“The health systems of our region are being severely affected by the surge in COVID-19 as a result of transmission occurring in our communities,” said Dr. Upendra Tucker. “We want everyone to know that such pressure on health services is seriously affecting access to much-needed health services. This situation will not start to improve until the transmission of the virus in society is reduced.
“We are doing everything we can. We continue to ask everyone who has the right to get vaccinated, avoid large gatherings indoors, social distance and hand washing. ”
From December 10 to 16, 554 COVID cases were reported in the Center County, where the University Park is located, meaning the county is still in high gear. According to the definition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants meet the definition of “high”.
Much is still unknown about the Omicron variant, but the first case in Pennsylvania was discovered on December 3rd. According to scientists, cases in the US are doubling every 2-4 days, which means that omicron will become the dominant option in a few weeks.
According to the New York Times, the probability of spreading omicron in the form of a delta variant is 2-3 times higher. While omicron seems less susceptible to the vaccine than other options, previous studies still show that the vaccine reduces the severity of the disease.
If personal classes at University Park are eventually delayed, according to the state of Pennsylvania, teachers will be allowed to use classrooms for distance learning, and staff are expected to work normally.
For more information and updates on Penn State’s response to COVID, go to virusinfo.psu.edu.